Columbia, University Center welcome collaboration with muralist


Lauren Kostiuk

London-based artist Ben Eine said even though his formal education ended at age 15, he continues to learn from friends who collaborate with him on graffiti art.

By Campus Reporter

Columbia’s students, staff, faculty and administrators, as well as representatives from the University Center Chicago, 525 S. State St., joined street art exhibitors Vertical Gallery on Oct. 22 to welcome London-based artist Ben Eine back to campus, where he will begin a new, 21-story project on Wabash Avenue.

Mark Kelly, vice president for Student Success, announced that Eine, who recently created the “Harmony” mural on the east side of the UC Building, will create a 21-story, illuminated mural in the Spring 2016 on 615 S. Wabash Ave. Kelly said the storage company U-Stor-It will provide lights for the mural.

Kelly said the Wabash Arts Corridor will see five new murals in the next month, including work from artist duo ASVP and photographer Daryl Schiff.

“The Wabash Arts Corridor is not just great street murals,” Kelly said. “It’s to activate the streets in many different forms; with media, with performance, with sculpture.”

President and CEO Kwang-Wu Kim said he is pleased with the work Eine did for the “Harmony” mural. He added that he thought it was fascinating Eine did not intentionally choose the word “harmony,” though he said he was not surprised, because artists do not always need to initially have an intention behind their work.

Eine said his formal education ended at age 15, but he continues to learn from his friends who collaborate with him on graffiti art.

“I learned about honesty; I learned about loyalty; I learned about passion and drive and hard work and taking risks,” Eine said. “In everything I do, I’m always learning.”

Vertical Gallery was established in 2013 and focuses on urban and contemporary street art, according to its website. Patrick Hull, owner and curator of Vertical Gallery in Ukrainian Village, said he reached out to Eine about doing a show after seeing Eine in a sold-out show in San Francisco.

“I knew the wall [Ben Eine] he would do in Chicago really needed to be something of a statement, a major piece of art for the city,” Hull said. “It would definitely be a wall that would last a period of time.”

Hull said he met Kelly after street artist Shepard Fairey did his walls during the Provacateur’s Art Alliance during Lollapalooza. Hull said he worked on finding street artists to come to Chicago while Kelly helped find locations for the artists to work.

Hull said as an art collector without an artistic background, he is constantly learning from everyone around him.

“I definitely do not want to have a gallery only showing one style of art,” Hull said. “For me to work with the students and work with the artists that are all very engaged in the student body, it invigorates me to stay involved and find a way I can get these artists involved as they come to the city.”

Hull said he and Eine feel as if they are giving back to the city, and having students involved in that process and having artists share their stories with students is critical to the learning process.

“I had no idea the importance of what I was painting, where I was painting, and how proud, enthusiastic and open Mark, the [college] and the arts district is,” Eine said. “I never really think about it; I just do what I do.”